Amateur photographers capture southeast Queens

TimesLedger Newspapers
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They capture present-day images that will be immortalized tomorrow.

They are the amateur photographers of the Southeast Queens Camera Club, an organization founded in 2005 that brings together neighbors who share the passion for black and white and color prints.

“We just love photography,” Leonard Nangle, president of the club, said. “A lot of members were part of other clubs, but there was nothing like this in our communities, in minority communities.”

Nangle, who became president of the association last year, pointed out that club members participate all year long in field trips and workshops to gain experience, correct errors and shoot photos for themselves and competitions.

Four founding members planted the seed that created the Southeast Queens Camera Club in 2005 by printing 1,000 informational fliers, distributing them in banks and libraries and holding their first meeting.

Now, the 58-member club meets three Tuesdays a month from September until June at Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica. Members pay the annual $30 dues for individuals, or $50 for families, no matter their size.

The founders of the club were Ron Caldwell, Dorothy Gist, Jim Grant and Hughe Williams.

“Forty people showed up for the meeting,” said Nangle, who became interested in photography while in high school. “At the time, digital photography was becoming popular and our neighbors wanted to learn how to use their cameras.”

The organization is one of the 23 camera club members of the Photographic Federation of Long Island. It assists with the annual Art Exhibit by the Southern Queens Park Association.

“Our members exhibit their work at the Art Exhibit,” explained Nangle, who is a financial expert.

In June, the organization hosted its fourth annual awards dinner. The guest speaker was professional photographer Nat Valentine, a freelancer for TimesLedger Newspapers.

For some members, the club has changed their lives, at least socially.

“Since becoming a member, now I look at newspapers for events that I can go and take pictures of,” said James Fonsville, a retired salesman who joined the club three years ago. “Being part of the club, I realized that I was just taking snapshots, not pictures,” added Fonsville, who has been interested in photography for more than 50 years.

“The club teaches us how to make better photographs,” said Fonsville, a Springfield Gardens resident who loves to photograph regular people on the streets. “Experts look at our work and show us how to improve.”

And that passion for pictures made Fonsville become an amateur photography instructor. He is now teaching photography to six youths from the Jamaica Arts Center, ages 14 to 17.

“The club encouraged me to do this volunteer work,” Fonsville pointed out. “This is just great.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Posted 12:00 am, August 5, 2014
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